The National Cooperative Soil Survey awarded its highest honor, the 2014 National Cooperator Achievement Award, to John Galbraith, Virginia Tech associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist.
He recently received the award at the Northeast Cooperative Soil Survey Conference, which took place at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
The award is presented annually for career contributions in research, teaching, and outreach to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service and to soil survey and soil science. NRCS staff from across the country vote on the award.
“Dr. Galbraith has left an indelible mark on soil survey efforts throughout the United States and worldwide,” said Roy Vick, associate director for soil operations at the USDA-NRCS.
Galbraith’s impact has touched soil survey at both the professional and academic level. He set the trend for modern urban soil surveys in the late 1990s, when he published the landmark "Soil Survey of South Latourette Park, Staten Island, New York City, NY" with Luis Hernandez. He is the international chair of two soil classification groups and is helping to rewrite and improve "Soil Taxonomy" and other international soil classification systems.
He coaches Virginia Tech's Soil Judging Team, which has won the National Intercollegiate Soil Judging Contest for three of the last five years. Galbraith has contributed to a vast number of academic publications.
Galbraith's work has taken him to the International Arctic Research Center, and he has traveled to Nepal and Bhutan as a Fulbright Scholar. He is currently conducting research in Senegal. His experience abroad made him realize the importance of soil survey.
“I traveled to developing countries that do not have soil survey, and I have seen that they are unable to manage their natural resources because they don’t have that basic layer of information that is necessary to make good decisions. It makes me appreciate that we do have such information available to us in the United States,” said Galbraith.
Galbraith earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Texas Tech University and his doctoral degree from Cornell University.